Thursday, April 22, 2010

A little war - II

The March 17th, 2010 blog entry 'A little war' noted 'A Little War That Shook The World: Georgia, Russia, And The Future Of The West', a book by Ronald D. Asmus that covered the Russia-Georgia "war" of August 2008. This blogger noted "... The biggest issue that this blogger has with Asmus' book is his treatment of the entire issue related to the role of NATO, something which is pivotal. Absent Georgian aspirations to NATO membership, entertained and supported by a number of countries in the West, and the Russian objection thereto, none of this might have happened ..."

Asmus' view of the happenings over the months leading to the "little war" are informed by his view of NATO. He conflates "democracy" and "NATO" as if these are synonymous terms... Georgia was turning towards democracy, ergo NATO membership would be a natural consequence or next step in that evolution. A key player in the earlier enlargement of NATO in the '90s, Asmus' assumptions that NATO expansion is logical and good, that no right-thinking person could find this problematic in any way, and that this expansion is a natural consequence of the expansion of democracy, color his view of the world and of the happenings in this period...

Asmus is right that divisions among NATO members on Georgia's accession sent the wrong message and thereby contributed to the developments that ensued, but he is wrong in blithely dismissing the doubts entertained by many as "enlargement fatigue." Questions existed, and remain, re the role that NATO serves and should serve, and what its rationale is given the breakup of the Soviet Union and the disappearance of the Warsaw Pact. NATO, champion and the veritable embodiment of democracy? Or is it NATO, U.S. force multiplier? Asmus stands with both feet firmly in the first camp.

Take Asmus' "frame" into account while reading the book, and the bottom line remains the same: Recommended.

(Quick note: Asmus makes his bias clear, he provides full disclosure on pages 16 to 18, ending the Introduction with "Some will suggest that my involvement in Georgia and these issues make me a partial observer of the events I describe... In any case, that is a judgment I leave for you, the reader, to decide yourself.")

Other reviews:
Missiles Over Tskhinvali
Georgia and Russia: Ungodly suffering
Times Online Review and a dissent: On not connecting the dots

NATO's Strategic and Operational Challenges
The Russian-Georgian War: Political and Military Implications for U.S. Policy
Russia-Georgia Conflict in August 2008: Context & Implications for U.S. Interests

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